Why I'm Coding For America

I am not a natural born United States citizen. I spent the first ten years of my life in a country much different than this one, with a much different culture. After arriving in the United States, I witnessed and participated in my family’s struggle to understand and work with the complex bureaucracies wrapped around immigration, food stamps, social security and public services. I waited with my family in seemingly endless lines, only to be told I needed to go to a different building and wait in another endless line. I learned that the system is flawed and wondered how to fix it.

I have always been curious in understanding how cities develop, sustain and function, and I have been fortunate enough to explore these topics in many cities and countries across the globe. Just like every human being, every city–while maintaining similarity in the most obvious and general features–is an extremely unique and complicated living organism.

And just like when doctors treat human beings, often unsure that the decision or action they’re taking will help rather than harm the patient, oftentimes the people making decisions for a city simply do not have the information to be confident in the outcome of their actions.

I have always been the observer. I always wondered, read, asked, but never acted. I saw, but never dove deep enough to understand. I often wondered how my skills could be of help, but was never really able to answer the question on my own.

Today we have the technology and the knowledge to help governments make better decisions, provide better services to their residents, and to improve the quality of numerous people’s lives.

That’s why I’m coding for America. As a Code For America fellow, I have an opportunity to no longer be the observer, but the doer. I have a chance to dive in deep and use my skills to help fix and improve the systems that each of us interacts with on a daily basis.